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Medically-Trained Air and Marine Operations Agents Prove Critical to Law Enforcement Missions

Release Date: 
January 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations, Air and Marine Emergency Medical Service-qualified agents were crucial to AMO and interagency law enforcement teams throughout fiscal year 2020 by responding to 178 events and enabling dynamic medical support in high-risk scenarios.

AMO agents provide critical life saving care
A Yuma Air Branch Air and Marine Operations
paramedic renders medical aid to a man with
life-threatening injuries from a dirt bike
accident near the Andrade Port of Entry in
November 2020.

AMO employs agents trained as Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics as aircrew members when conducting rescue operations. AMO established its AMEMS program to insert agents with specialized medical capabilities in austere airborne and maritime environments. Each AMEMS-qualified agent is a nationally certified EMT and undergoes rigorous annual training to maintain skill proficiencies in all environments and conditions.

Graduates of the AMEMS program are critical additions to law enforcement teams responding to border security, contingency, and national security missions. During FY 2020, AMEMS-certified agents contributed unique medical expertise during six hurricanes, as well as during National Special Security Events (NSSE), and civil unrest responses throughout the nation.

“We are not an air ambulance service; law enforcement is our primary mission. But it’s this unique ability our agents have that allows them to transition immediately to a NSSE, natural disaster or a humanitarian crisis life-saving role,” said Supervisory Marine Interdiction Agent (SMIA) Mike Naujoks, AMEMS Program Manager within AMO’s Training, Safety, & Standards Directorate.

AMO and USBP provide emergency medical care
Air and Marine Operations paramedics and
U.S. Border Patrols' Border Search, Rescue,
and Trauma (BORSTAR) agents are often the
first emergency medical technicians to render
care to those they encounter on the job.

On July 7, a McAllen Air and Marine Branch aircrew responded to a search along the Rio Grande River for a woman with a fractured ankle who was left by a crossing group. An AMEMS paramedic treated her before EMS transported her to the hospital. 

In mid-December, a Deming, N.M.-based AS350 crew responded to a United States Border Patrol request for aerial coverage, where an armed person suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound. An AMEMS EMT and a USBP agent attempted life-saving care before the aircrew delivered the injured man to a local hospital.

“The AMEMS program would also like to eventually expand this skillset to be able to treat our law enforcement K9 counterparts in the future,” Naujoks said.  In December, a Tucson-based AS350 crew rescued a distressed large animal when the pilot landed to render aid. The air interdiction agent was the only AMEMS-qualified agent in AMO who held qualifications to also work with animals.

Other articles highlighting crucial AMEMS support in life-saving rescue operations include:

Air and Marine Operations safeguards our nation by anticipating and confronting security threats through our aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise, innovative capabilities, and partnerships at the border and beyond. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO serves as the nation’s experts in airborne and maritime law enforcement.

In fiscal year 2020, AMO enforcement actions resulted in the seizure or disruption of 194,220 pounds of cocaine, 278,492 pounds of marijuana, 15,985 pounds of methamphetamine, 952 weapons and $51.5 million, 1,066 arrests, 47,872 apprehensions of illegal aliens.

For more information about CBP, visit: CBP.govFlickrDVIDS, or follow us on Twitter at @CBPAMO.

Last modified: 
January 27, 2021